The 4th Circle: Interview with REBECCA ROWLAND

-Interview by Desi D

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?

My first instinct would be to say “cat,” if only because I’ve always owned one, and most of the time, when I’m writing at my desk, a cat is lounging on the floor nearby. However, I think a better choice would be an ocean wave. I wish I could be like other writers and just sit at the computer or paper and churn something out on a whim, but for me, I have to be inspired, to hear a snippet of dialogue a character might say or a line or two of narrative in my head.

Nothing in particular inspires me. Sometimes it happens when I am driving, sometimes it happens when I first wake up in the morning. It waxes and wanes, and I have no control over it, like the tide. But boy, is it fun to ride when the waves are huge.

  1. When you sit down to write, do you start with character, setting, plot, or something else? And why?

I start with the line that I hear in my head and cobble the story around it, weirdly enough. If I wish to submit to or am invited to a certain call, I try to shape the story in the call’s direction, but it always starts with the sentence or two, floating in space without a story to call home.

  1. What is it about the horror genre that has attracted your imagination?

I’m very aware when something is going to make me happy or sad, but what unsettles me often catches me off-guard, and it evolves over the years. I also find that dark fiction has the best twists at the end. I have always been a huge Twilight Zone fan, so being able to craft something that pulls the rug out from under a reader is a rush. Romance, weepy dramas: Those don’t have the same kind of “aha” moments that speculative fiction genres do.

  1. What is it about the art of storytelling that excites you? And of course, what is the next story we can look forward to reading from you?

It’s always a nice feeling when someone reads my work. We wouldn’t send our pieces out for publication if we didn’t want people to read them. But a lot of the satisfaction I get is just finishing a story and knowing that I created something different, or that perhaps I took a known trope and twisted it a bit.

I have a story, “Sobriquet,” coming out in Sinister Smile Press’ INSTITUTIONALIZED anthology in September. The authors were given the task of crafting a character who is dangerous because s/he thinks in an altered state of some sort. While doing some research, I stumbled across a fetish that I found morbidly fascinating, and I was able to weave it with a few paragraphs I’d had jotted down months earlier. The tale is a bit disturbing and more than a little unsettling, I am damn proud of it, and I can’t wait for the collection to come out.

The 4th Circle: Interview with Josh Schlossberg

Interview by Desi D

  1. Name one author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

I know I should probably say someone like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, or Shirley Jackson, but the author who influenced my writing the most is definitely John Steinbeck. (What’s funny is it’s recently been revealed that Steinbeck wrote a werewolf novel that’s never been published, and people are calling on his estate to release it!)

Steinbeck’s writing comes across as so simple it’s almost like spoken word, but it’s deceptive in that it’s no easy feat. And not only are his stories deeply meaningful, they’re timeless—as is his prose style which avoids the flowery, clunky sentence structure that dates so many “classic” authors. If a literate alien picked up Steinbeck’s work today, I bet it wouldn’t be able to tell if it had just been written or published centuries ago.

Of course, I’m not saying I’ve achieved close to any of this in my writing. But I think he’s been rubbing off on me and I hope I’m making some progress.

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The 4th Circle: Interview with John WM Thompson

-Interview by Desi D

1. What’s your favorite line in a book/movie? And why?

No singular favorite, but there are a few lines that drift through my mind unbidden every few weeks at most, and one of them is from Flannery O’Connor’s WISE BLOOD:
“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.”

In a vacuum, I think it’s a perfect description of a character at the precipice of a well-told story, but in context, it’s how O’Connor cuts to the heart of certain spiritual desperation, despair, displacement. I’m captivated by stories of spiritually alienated and confused people and the way that confusion manifests as a kind of vague menace. You never know what a person who doesn’t know themselves will do.

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